My Experience with Squarespace
Years ago, I used WordPress for the Big Weekend Calendar sites. I found it a pain to keep things up-to-date and I was always concerned about getting hacked because I had purchased the hosting and domain separately and did my own install.
Then Squarespace and Wix came out and I decided to switch over to Squarespace. It didn’t look as nice, but was way easier to update using their block editor and was “good enough”. I don’t have the website to sell calendars, really. It’s just there so if people see the calendar somewhere and the Google it, they’ll have a place to go to learn more about it. Like where to buy it, etc.
Looking for Squarespace Alternatives
When I started the IRLXD.com blog, I decided I wanted a more professional look that the calendar site. (A friend observed that “all Squarespace sites look like Squarespace site”. ) I wasn’t sure what to use. I didn’t want Squarespace. Wix didn’t appear any better. I didn’t want to manage all the backend stuff, though.
I had just read Austin Kleon’s “Show your work” which encouraged you to put your work out there for the world to see. He also has a book called “Steal Like an Artist“. I didn’t read that book but I took the advice of the title. I went to his blog, and stole it. Well, I stole the look of it, at least. And technically it wasn’t stealing, I just figured out what template he was using and did the same.
As you can see, his blog has a look very similar to my blog.
Before you say “theif!” please note that his blog looks very similar to an out-of-the-box WordPress template called eleven40 Pro. You can buy it or you can can get it at WPEngine for free if you subscribe to their $25/$30 monthly hosting fee.
What is WPEngine, Exactly?
The answer to this question was not obvious to me, so let me try to explain it to you if you’re on Squarespace or Wix and aren’t loving it.
WPEngine is like a very powerful Squarespace. You can mess with the backend if you want. You can do all kinds of configurations if you want. Or you can just choose a template and treat it just about like Squarespace.
But how does WordPress fit into this? WPEngine is basically your hosting and your install of WordPress in one package you don’t have to mess with.
But what about templates? You just choose the template you want (WordPress calls them “themes”) and you’re done (if you want to be).
If it’s been forever since you used WordPress (like I was) you might be delighted to know they introduced a major change in their editor which intoduced a drag-and-drop block editor. Many old timers hate the new editor because they prefer to dig into the code like the old days, but for me it was like having a much better version of Squarespace for the same price. (You can still dig into the code and even install a plugin that makes it all look like 2012 again).
So I switched.
And it has been FANTASTIC.
WPEngine Learning Curve
I found the learning curve pretty small, too.
If you don’t want anything more than the equivalent Squarespace functionality, it’s almost a non-existent curve.
Going beyond the Squarespace equivalent functionality ranges from “it takes no time” to a long and frustrating time trying to do something really fancy. That you probably don’t need anyways.
Also: it loads better and faster. Way faster (in relative internet time).
Squarespace loading has always been spotty for me. The editor of the calendar emailed me on numerous occasions saying the site was down. I never saw it down, but I definitely have seen it slow. And I’ve seen weird artifacts as well. Just this morning on the BWC Squarespace site I saw these weird lines showing up all over the menu bars. (Wish I had screenshot it for you – it did happen!).
The Eureka Room site is also now on Squarespace. They have a plan where you can get 3 sites for $50 a month so now I was on a better platform at a cheaper price. Wow. There’s some sharing of data storage and other minor concessions, but for my purposes it’s like spending $50 for 3 sites instead of $26 for one.
Not only that, but the chat help has been very knowledgeable and responsive for the most part. The site and the tools around the site seem faster. You also get staging and development sites for each “live” site. In Squarespace making a staging site really wasn’t an option. But it’s really valuable in helping debug issues and preview things before going live. (In SS, you have to copy each page to another page that is visible only to you, then you have copy each page over the other, possibly change the slugs and do some other tweaks. Ugh.)
I’ve been using WPEngine for about a year now and am going to switch all my sites over to them. Find out more (this is not a paid or affilliate link!) at WPEngine.com.